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The upgrade problem: landfills full of electronics

January 12, 2010 |  7:53 am

What happens when a whole nation gets excited about a new cellphone, or a thinner, bigger flat-screen TV? A lot of trash. In her story about what happens to all the electronics that Americans throw away each year, our green reporter Susan Carpenter lays out the scope of the problem:

Americans got rid of 27 million TVs, 205 million computer products and more than 100 million cellphones and PDAs in 2007, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Just 16% of that equipment was recycled. The rest was carted out to the garage, stowed away because of consumers' confusion about what to do or, more commonly, sent to the landfill, where the glass, plastics and metals were crushed into submission and buried with the banana peels and fast-food wrappers, never to be seen again.

But there is something you can do. After the jump you'll find a list of electronic waste collection centers in Los Angeles where you can bring your electronics to be recycled.


The Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation has six S.A.F.E. Centers that collect solvents, automotive waste, flammable materials and electronics. (Get it? S.A.F.E.?) The centers are open year-round and accept computers, monitors, printers, cables, telephones, televisions, microwave ovens, video games, cellphones, radios, stereos, VCRs and electronic toys, which are broken down into piles of components as in the picture above.

S.A.F.E. Centers will not accept refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers or conventional ovens.

The locations are:

UCLA: 550 Charles E. Young Drive W., Los Angeles. Open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but electronic waste is accepted only on Saturdays.

Playa del Rey:  Hyperion Treatment Plant, 7660 W. Imperial Highway, Gate B. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Sun Valley: 11025 Randall St. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

Near Glendale: 4600 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Near Vernon:
2649 E. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

San Pedro: 1400 N. Gaffey St. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Bureau of Sanitation also will hold a household hazardous waste collection event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28 at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, on De Soto Avenue by Gresham Street in Canoga Park.

-- Deborah Netburn

Photos: Old computers and discarded electronic items arrive for disassembly at the e-Recycling of California processing facility located in Paramount. A growing pile of copper, wire, plastic, circuits boards and other internal parts from various electronic devices that have been disassembled. Photo credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.